Focus fully on Oxford

Avram Grant will only turn his thoughts to Saturday's trip to Manchester United once West Ham United have completed their intriguing Carling Cup fixture with Oxford United.

Tuesday's tie, which must be decided on the night, promises to be an entertaining encounter with the league newcomers looking to show they are on the up again. The Hammers, meanwhile, will aim to get their season going after a tough league opening and the match could include a debut for new signing Tal Ben Haim.

Also in contention for a first outing of the summer is Manuel da Costa, with the manager likely to name a very strong squad. While progress into Saturday's third-round draw is the absolute priority, all will also be jockeying for places for Old Trafford and then the visit of Chelsea on 11 September. The manager, though, is focusing fully on the task at hand.

"Everyone was talking after Bolton about Manchester United and Chelsea coming up but I will not think about these matches until after the final whistle," he said. "We have to give Oxford - who I am delighted to welcome - our respect and prepare the same as we will when we go to Old Trafford on Saturday.

"It is a good competition and we want to win," the manager added of a game which has seen ticket prices set at just £5 for kids and £10 for adults. "We tell the players they need to win every game, even in training. Especially after we lost because the reaction is more important than anything."


Grant has been running the rule over his players in training since Sunday morning and could well also take the opportunity to see what the likes of Freddie Sears and Benni McCarthy can offer - perhaps off the bench again - as well as the impressive Pablo Barrera and Freddie Piquionne.

"We will see which players can play on Tuesday as some players played on Saturday that haven't played for a long time but we want to win this game."

As well as Barrera, Piquionne and Co, more new faces may be arriving soon, hopefully to play a part in an extended cup run and positive league campaign. "We are trying to complete the squad before the end of the transfer window.

"The new players we already have are settling in quickly and those coming back from injury are showing they can make a big contribution - not just for this season but for the long term. All of this is very encouraging as we can only get better and better."